John 20v21 "Peace be with you" Remembering/ war/peace/ Love
This is a month of remembering. Remembering the dead at Halloween, remembering that someone tried to blow up Parliament on Guy Fawkes Night and remembering the destruction and devastation of two world wars and more since and the impact on our families. War leaves deep scars on our families and our nations as we can see in Syria at the present time. Sometimes we are called to defend our selves. Sometimes we are called to bring peace.
I learnt this week that the ur-text is what is behind a text.
Behind our text today in John is Micah 5v4 but also many other texts in the Old Testament and the New about peace. In the midst of war we have peace. We are the peacemakers called by God to fulfil that role.
Life is fragile. If you've ever been with someone who dies in front of you you know this. But life is more fragile if you live in a war zone, particularly Aleppo at the current time. Death is more certain at these times especially if you are a doctor or a nurse or a soldier. How do we manage to deal with the fragility of life? What anchors us? From what do we draw strength?
We are frightened of terrorism ( but we are more likely statistically to die crossing the road). Was Jesus a peacemaker?! It's an interesting question. He never took arms but his words were often far from peaceful and he often did not keep the peace. But he gave us peace, shalom, healing. He was a man of justice. Sharing, not hoarding, was part of his nature. And so sharing should be at the heart of our theology, our ideology, our lives. Like the rich fool we can gather and garner but this is not what life is about, as followers of Jesus. Fellowship, sharing food is central to who we are especially at hard times. When we have nothing, food and shelter are our basic needs for life's fragility.
Our baptism calls us to live a life that gives life to others, is life giving. Sometimes being peacemakers means we have to travel a long journey to move people from a No to a Yes. Change doesn't happen quickly necessarily. How do we nurture those who are peacemakers? Jesus says they are the children of God in Matthew. How do we nurture people who are prepared to go against the grain, against what is expected to be peacemakers? Last week a Syrian refugee mother brought large pots of food to feed the other refugees and asylum seekers. She carried the pots on her head round the police cordon. Her English is almost non existent but she wanted to show kindness to others.
We live in a world of lies but we are the people of truth. Sometimes we need to be very wise in this world of lies. How do we live fruitfully in a world of lies? Sometimes to speak the truth is very dangerous and upsets more than the status quo. But we as Christians are on a journey following the example of someone who was crucified because he spoke truth into a world of lies. We are not called to be hatemongerers when we say we are Christians are we? In a world of racism, xenophobia, islamaphobia does Jesus want us to hate our neighbours, to shun them and their children? But sometimes to get over our prejudices it takes time.
The cross has something very important to say to us about absorbing all of us in Christ's redemption, especially those who are different from us or who we don't like (Miroslav Volf explains this well in his book Exclusion and Embrace). How are we peacemakers when in our community someone is gunned down in our street or children are killed in a house fire? Aren't we all feeling fragile and afraid to go out? Doesn't it speak to our common humanity to join hands against such seemingly meaningless acts? Who as in Mark is the strong man we have to bind in ourselves and our communities in order to have peace?
Jesus says he has left us with his peace. We need this peace in ourselves, in our families, in our community and in our nation more than ever. Amen